Monday, August 11, 2014

Color Play

(My Winsor & Newton Student-Grade travel Palette)
I started learning about the colors in my palette a couple of days ago by mixing a bunch of greens, here's the post. When I finished Roz Stendahl's class I realized as I perused her blog, reading all about color theory, brush pens etc., that in fact, I really should change out my student watercolors for the artist colors I already own. I had been putting this off for two reasons. One, I figured I could use up the student colors that came with my travel Winsor & Newton palette because I was just fooling around and learning so why did it matter that I wasn't using artist quality paints. The other reason was that I KNEW it was going to be a long and arduous journey to get to a new artist grade palette and I was putting it off until I knew more about color.

(Artist Quality Reds)
 Well, here's what happened, I kept reading Roz's blog. Bad idea if you want to stay lazy, lol. Roz recommends not even giving student quality paint to children! She makes the astute point that you'll just frustrate the budding artist when they try and mix colors and get mostly mud. Artist quality colors are much more forgiving and actually teach you what you need to know later to be a good artist. Mixing color is an art in and of itself so starting with sub-par paint just doesn't make sense.

The Yellows/Earths
Ok, so now I knew I had a huge amount of work on my hands. I had a great selection of artist grade watercolors (about 34 colors) but no idea which of those colors I wanted in my palette. I read the many pages from Roz about what was in her palette and why, I looked up Dion Dior because I know she did a spread about her travel palette and I also looked up Brenda Swenson for the same reason. Now I just had to get down to the business of learning which colors did what I wanted them to do. (Oh, I should have said, click on any and all of the photos to get a closer look, you may even be able to read my writing, lol No derogatory comments allowed about my handwriting, I'm left handed. ;o)

To start, I knew I wanted to mix one of my favorite colors, Payne's
(Greens & Blues)
Grey. I had learned that it is a mix of ultramarine blue and Burnt Sienna. I also knew I wanted to mix a black so I didn't have to carry it in my palette (there are only 12 spaces!). When I looked at other colors that I loved and hoped to have in my palette I wanted to thin the herd, so to speak, and learn to mix some of them. Like Mauve. I had learned that I could get a beautiful purpley color by mixing Opera pink with viridian and I also wanted to be able to mix a good orange since I didn't have any more orange at all, not even vermillion. So, those were the start of my goals. I figured I'd make it up as I went along after that.

Ultramarines & Other
I first tested all the colors, reds, yellows, earths, greens and blues... plus other colors I had hanging around, lol. Then I chose my favorite hues, at least one cool and one warm to do tests with to see which colors mixed well together. The first test was the Payne's gray and YAY, I successfully made my favorite W&N Paynes grey. Now for black. I know it's the same mix as Payne's grey but with less ultramarine and more burnt sienna. it took a little while, but SUCCESS!! I had black. On to testing out other blues to go in my palette and trying to mix orange, brown and a nice warm grey.

I found that the horizon blue seemed to be opaque and I know from Roz that all the cadmiums are also opaque and I want clear colors. If I wanted opaque I'd use gauche! I did get a beautiful Fuchsia by adding opera pink (Holbein) to quin red and I achieved two oranges, one a bright and the other a slightly burnt color, perfect! Now on to testing out how sap green mixed with the two reds I was waffling between. I found that the quin red and sap green make a gorgeous brown kind of like a burnt umber but a little warmer. 

In the end, although I wanted to add yellow ochre and quin burnt orange to my palette, I ran out of room. I'm going to limit myself to the twelve color half pans for now but if in the near future I find I need or even miss a few colors, I'll add those into the slots that I marked on my final palette drawing. I actually could have another five weird spots for colors but I have to admit, the esthetics of it bother me. I know many do this but for now, it isn't a choice I'm gonna make. By the way, I may have gotten the pages out of order, so just look for the colors I mentioned on the test page to see the right color combinations. Some of them turned out quite beautiful.

I took the time to write down everything I did in a transcript-like section after all the paint testing so I could remember where I was if I decide to add or remove colors later. This is my final palette for now, or at least until I can afford the Whiskey Painter's Palette I want that allows for a maximum of 24 colors if you fill the center space with 8 extra half pans. It's an expensive palette, about $70 so it's on my Christmas list along with new paint from Daniel Smith to fill it, lol. Now I'm kinda out of most paint, filling my palette left me with significantly fewer tubes of fresh pretty paint to use. It is so beautiful though to be using artist grade watercolors again though. That's a good thing.

(Lemon Yellow, Cadmium Yellow, Quin Gold, Burnt Sienna, Turquoise, French Ultramarine
 Opera, Alizerin Crimson, Sap Green, Viridian, Shadow Green)
Anyway, I'll be back in the next day or two with a wonderful bit of art, a tribute to the beautiful parrot I used to have as a pet. Unfortunately, I became highly allergic to her after fourteen years of loving her, from her babyhood to her teen years. Now she's with a lovely older couple and I'm sure she's teaching them all the words and sentences she knows, including "want water" when she's thirsty! It'll be a great post so keep your eyes pealed. Talk soon, K? Great!!


If you're looking for this week's APR just click here.
I'm reading: Color PlayTweet this Post


  1. I would really love to have a proper travel palette, I have never had the money to spend on a lot of colors so I have always mixed my own, Paynes grey is one color I use a lot of, I was really just a fluke when I made it the first time, my palette looks much like yours except I have never bought the opera pink, I have never saw that color here but boy I like the sounds of it, I cannot wait to see what you painted!

  2. Whooo...there's such a lot of incredible information in this post that I'm going to have to print it off to digest it all.
    Paynes Gray is my favourtie too (and my daughters. I'm learning to use acrylic inks and loving it.
    It's all a journey isn't it.
    Have fun and I'll look forward to seeing your creations.
    Enjoy your week xoxo


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